It is a week of well earned congratulations and disappointment, and both around the law.
Congratulations are due each and every but especially a few for the passage of The 21st Century Cures and Mental Health Reform Package in the US Congress. Oh, the people, the work, the patience, the skill, the strategic wisdom, and the WORK that went into getting eating disorders included in that bill, and passed. I've been watching and at times involved with the work and anyone who cares about eating disorders owes an enormous debt to those who did not give up, did not lose sight of the goals. Those who suffered any number of setbacks and disappointments and KEPT GOING. And it matters. It really matters. Thank you to the organizations, especially the Eating Disorders Coalition, which itself represents organizations -- like F.E.A.S.T. -- who stood for all of us and got this done. It's a good week for mental health, and we needed it.
Another story which may seem to be about one person is actually important to countless others. A woman in New Jersey suffering from mental illness expressed the desire to stop being saved. It isn't uncommon to hear this, and countless families and treatment teams have been faced with the question of whether continuing to distress the patient is compassionate or irresponsible. So the decision by a judge to agree with the petition not to be "force-fed" is hitting many in the eating disorder world hard. Because we all know how agonizing treatment can be. And we all want to offer solace. And sometimes mental illness can seem so intractable and the medical effects so dire.
But many of us see this decision as a grave misunderstanding of what anorexia nervosa is, what treatment is, and what our role as loved ones as treatment providers can be. I wrote about this in a Huffington Post piece this week, and talk about it in the latest episode of New Plates. If you, too, care about this, make sure to be a voice saying so.
I hear many people say "no one cares about eating disorders." Well the success in the US Congress is a triumph for our voices being heard. The case in New Jersey is one where we can choose to speak or be part of the silent assent.